By Julia Futo
A Day With Developmental Coordination Disorder
Note: This blog was originally written at the end of 2019 (before the coronavirus pandemic). It’s purpose is to illustrate the everyday life of someone with Developmental Coordination Disorder under normal circumstances.
Morning Routines & Waking Myself Up
It’s around 7:30-8:30 in the morning on a Tuesday or Thursday. I am awakened by the sun shining through my window. As I get out of my bed, I turn on my computer, and as I wait for it to load, I get myself some breakfast and watch my favorite show, “Ghost Adventures.” It’s now an hour later, and I still have plenty of time before my 12:30-1:45 class for college. My computer is on, but I need to wake myself up before I continue working on assignment for my music appreciation class, so I switch the living room television onto the Wii and start doing my at-home Zumba routine. My mind and body are now awake, but I still haven’t taken a shower yet! I start getting myself ready for school but still have a good hour or two left, so I proceed to do some schoolwork on my computer.
Going to School
Now it’s time to go to school. I triple check to make sure I have all the necessary items and wait for a ride. While I’m checking my items once again, I fumble around trying to get my keys out, put my sunglasses on, and close my backpack. I’m dropped off at school and let my mom know I’ve arrived safely. As I make my way to my class, I grip onto the rails of the staircase and direct my field of vision directly downwards, watching my every step upstairs to make sure I don’t trip or fall. Finally, I make it to class!
Struggles with Transportation
I’m fully engaged in what my professor is telling or showing us. This time, it’s a video showing the full composition of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. The music is loud and engaging. Class isn’t quite over yet, as there’s still about ten minutes left, but then I notice my phone ringing: it’s my transportation back home. If I don’t answer my phone, they’ll leave in five minutes, even though they’re not supposed to be here until at least 1:45, but there’s really loud music playing in the background and I can’t just leave my classroom to answer the phone. Oh no! What do I do??? Hoping my professor won’t notice, I pick my phone up awkwardly and answer. Quietly, I explain to them that I’m still in class and I’ll be down as soon as I can. But wait: the attendance sheet hasn’t been passed around yet and I need to mark myself present before I leave! There’s a really long line, and if I don’t sign it, I’ll be marked absent! Shoot! I just realized I forgot to ask my transportation if they’re at the media center or in front of the admissions building! Oh god… I rush to sign the attendance sheet and run as fast as my little feet can carry me, having to make a guess where my transportation is at. Hopefully, it’s by the admissions building, hopefully, I don’t trip going downstairs, and hopefully, my transportation will still be there.
I get to the admission building and they’re still there. Thank goodness! Angry that it took me so long to get down there, my ride reacts rudely to my hello and explanation. Oh well… what was I supposed to do? Leave early, get caught, and get in trouble? Nope! That was simply not an option. It wouldn’t be considered the right thing to do in my book.
Transitioning from School to Work
I get home and I’m starved and exhausted! I whip up a quick lunch and hurry to eat it. Usually, I’m scheduled to work at my part time job at a local supermarket on Sundays, but this time, I work today at 3:30. I’ve been tired out from simply making sure I didn’t knock into anything, gave my full attention to the music in class, and making sure I didn’t miss my ride home. Unfortunately, I don’t have enough time to take a quick nap to rejuvenate myself, so I put on a pre-recorded guided meditation and relax for a little while instead to rejuvenate myself from the early stressors of today. Now I need to get ready for work.
Those Darn Carts
I arrive on time: five minutes early to be exact. My body is not fully awake yet, so I need to move around once again. It’s 90 degrees outside and the entire parking lot is littered with carts, so I move as many of them back as I can and do this maybe for 30 minutes or an hour before a cash register is open for me to bag. I have low heat tolerance and I’m starting to get a headache from being out in the sun, but I enjoy my job and think of getting the carts as a full body workout. I have to be on high alert though, as cars are moving around everywhere, and I don’t want to get hurt. I have to guess a car’s every movement and think about where I am in relation to my surroundings. I’m good at doing neither.
As I’m making my way to the main entrance, pushing five carts back inside, several customers are coming outside. I see them coming and rush to stop the carts from hitting the customers, but as I do that, the some of those carts get loose and start wheeling downhill. One almost hits a car, but I stop it before it does. I look behind me and now the carts are scattered all over the place again. Some nice customers try and help me, but this only makes me feel embarrassed because they’re doing my job for me.
Go-Backs or Price Checks?
Finally, I’m able to get to the cash registers. Then one of my coworkers, who is in a higher position than myself, asks me to put several groceries away, explaining where they need to go. Overwhelmed by all this information, my brain starts going haywire and shuts down. It’s not her fault though. She doesn’t understand that I get overwhelmed by tasks with a plethora of steps. I have several glasses of cold beer to put back, and being cautious, I take my time to put them back, trying not to break them, but work as efficiently as I can. I try my hardest to put everything that I can away, even though my sense of direction is not the best, but one of my managers notices that I’ve been gone for a long time. Next thing I know, I hear, “Julia, to the front please” by one another coworker that’s in a higher position than me. As I make my way back to the front, one of my managers scolds me and tells me I need to hustle and not be so slow. Offended by those words, I go back outside to get carts to calm myself down. I know my manager’s intention was not to upset me and they didn’t know I was trying to put several delicate items away, but now I can’t fully get that comment out of my head. Later, I go back and explain what happened and tell my manager that those words hurt me. The manager apologized to me, which made me feel better.
Coming Home & Night Routine
It’s now 7:45 and time for me to go home. My mom picks me up from work and I tell her about my day on the car ride home. Telling her about the situation with my manager made me sad again and my mom upset, but she reassures me that I’m a hard worker, and sometimes, miscommunications are made at work. Thus, we come up with a five percent improvement for the next time.
Now that I’m home, I eat dinner and watch television with my mom for a little bit. We enjoy this time together because it acts as escapism from our everyday lives. The show ends and she goes to bed. I say goodnight to her. Now, it’s 8:30-9:30 at night. I then get back to my schoolwork and work for about an hour. My body is all tight from the day, so I do some yoga to loosen up and read for a little before I go to bed. As I lay in bed, I reflect on my day and think about what tomorrow will hold. Even though it was a little stressful, it was very productive, and I finished everything I wanted to today, so I fall asleep happy.
Julia Futo was born on August 5th, 1999, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. She faced difficulties early on in life with trying to perform everyday tasks. Before she was five years old, she was diagnosed with two learning disabilities: Encephalopathy and developmental coordination disorder (DCD). She struggled in school for a long time, but that changed when she took journalism in high school and learned how to become an advocate. She is currently in college and hopes to help others find their voices.